Title page for ETD etd-1108102-093615

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Hilker, Kellie Ann
Author's Email Address khilker@lsu.edu
URN etd-1108102-093615
Title Somatic Complaints and Health Care Utilization in Children Exposed to Violence
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Department Psychology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Mary Lou Kelley Committee Chair
Amy Copeland Committee Member
Carole Jurkiewicz Committee Member
Phillip Brantley Committee Member
Jan Norris Dean's Representative
  • somatic complaints
  • health care utilization
  • children
  • violence exposure
Date of Defense 2002-11-05
Availability unrestricted
In the United States, violence has been referred to as a public health epidemic and violence exposure of our youth is a particularly serious national concern. Numerous negative outcomes are associated with both child victimization and violence exposure including externalizing problems, internalizing symptoms, and poor academic performance. Somatic complaints, which have been associated with internalizing symptoms, have been found as well; however, physical complaints have not been studied in depth. Additionally, health care utilization is an area that is not widely studied in pediatric psychology, but positive associations between posttraumatic stress disorder and increased health care utilization has been found in the adult literature. The purpose of the current study was to evaluate the relationship between violence exposure and internalizing symptoms with two outcome variables, somatic complaints and health care utilization, in a sample of children attending a pediatric primary care clinic. Results of a multiple regression analysis found that 62% of the variance of child-reported somatic complaints was predicted by child gender, higher scores on the Physical/Verbal Abuse scale of the KID-SAVE, and more reported internalizing symptoms. No differences in rates of violence exposure, somatic complaints, or internalizing symptoms were found between high and low utilizers of health care. Future research directions could include a longitudinal study to assess changes over time in somatic complaints and health care utilization in relation to childhood violence exposure.
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